How Much Do Caddies Make? A Guide to Caddy Salaries in Golf

Golfer and caddy walking up a fairway

Navigating the undulating greens, strategizing over club selections, and calming nerves before a high-stakes putt—caddies are the unsung heroes behind many great golf games. But as they haul clubs and offer sage advice, many wonder: What’s in it for them financially?

In this article, we’ll delve into the earnings landscape for caddies, from fresh faces on local courses to seasoned pros beside top PGA Tour players. Whether you’re considering a summer job or eyeing caddying as a full-time career, we’ll break down how pay scales with experience, location, and other variables. Read on to discover what’s in the financial scorecard for those who carry the bag.

How Much Do Caddies Make on the PGA Tour?

On average, PGA Tour caddies earn a base salary ranging from $1,500 to $3,000 for each tournament. Additionally, they receive a percentage of the golfer’s winnings if the golfer makes the cut. Specifically, caddies get 10% for a tournament win, 7% for a top-ten finish, and 5% for other placements as long as the golfer makes the cut. It’s worth noting that these earnings are often subject to negotiation between the caddy and the golfer.

It’s important to note that caddies’ salaries are often negotiated with the golfer, so their income may vary. As a result, caddies on the PGA Tour can earn anywhere from $50,000 to over $1 million annually.

The varying success of golfers on the PGA Tour significantly influences their caddies’ income. For instance, top-earning caddies like Michael Greller, who works with Jordan Spieth, and Joe LaCava, Tiger Woods’ caddy, have earned millions of dollars throughout their careers thanks to their golfers’ consistently impressive performances.

Breaking Down a Professional, PGA Tour Golf Caddy Salary

tiger woods and caddy

When it comes to professional golf caddies, their salary depends on their golfer’s performance. Here’s a brief overview of how their earnings are structured:

  • They receive a base salary of around $1,500 to $3,000 per tournament on the PGA Tour, which helps cover expenses like travel.
  • On top of their base salary, caddies earn a percentage of their golfer’s winnings. This includes:
    • 10% bonus if the golfer wins the tournament.
    • 7% bonus if the golfer finishes in the top ten.
    • 5% bonus if the golfer finishes outside the top ten.

Keep in mind that these earnings can vary since the PGA Tour doesn’t regulate caddies’ pay. Golfers and their caddies negotiate their agreements, which can be written or verbal.

PGA caddies also cover their own expenses during the tour, including accommodations, healthcare, and travel. 

Despite this, being a golf caddy can still be a rewarding career. An organization called the Association of Professional Tour Caddies assists caddies in earning more money through appearances and improving their working conditions by offering travel and healthcare discounts.

What a Former PGA Caddy Has to Say

When it comes to PGA caddies’ earnings, there’s more than meets the eye. While many assume the pay is always 10% of the golfer’s winnings, former caddy and ESPN analyst Michael Collins clarifies that it’s not that straightforward. He mentions that caddies receive a weekly paycheck, which is negotiated with the golfer, as they need to cover expenses such as travel, food, and lodging.

Collins explains the typical pay structure for caddies, which consists of 10% for a win, 7% for a top-ten finish, and 5% for everything else. However, this percentage is also subject to negotiation between the golfer and caddy. There are no standard contracts, allowing for flexibility in the arrangement.

For example, the caddy might prefer a higher weekly pay, say $2,500 instead of $1,500, and a flat 7% across the board, regardless of the golfer’s performance in the tournament. This approach ensures a stable income without compromising the potential for substantial earnings in case of a win.

In the interview, Michael Collins shared an example of winning a major tournament like the Masters, where the winner could take home around $3.3 million. The caddy could earn between $330,000 plus their weekly pay in such cases.

How Do the Pros Select a Caddie?

golf caddy helping golfer read a putt

Professional golfers consider a range of factors to ensure the perfect match when choosing a caddie. Let’s explore some key elements in selecting a caddie that can contribute to a golfer’s success.

  • Experience: Golfers prefer caddies with a proven track record, as they understand the pressure and demands of professional tournaments. They also value past experience with the golfer or with other successful professionals.
  • Course Knowledge: Caddies should have a deep understanding of various golf courses, including their terrain, green slopes, and wind conditions. This understanding means they can offer valuable advice and help the golfer choose the right strategy during tournaments.
  • Compatibility: Golfers need a caddie who shares their approach and attitude towards the game. As they rely on their caddie’s advice and support, it’s crucial that both parties have a solid mutual understanding and can communicate effectively.
    Physical Fitness: Golf courses can be vast, and tournaments can stretch over multiple days. A caddie must be physically fit to efficiently carry the golfer’s equipment and walk long distances.

Remember, while the golfer is the star of the show, a good caddie can make a significant difference in their performance. The more informed and skilled the caddie, the better the golfer will perform. So, when seeking a caddie, professionals invest time and effort to find someone who ticks all the essential boxes.

How Much Do Amateur Caddies Make?

Amateur caddies’ earnings vary by experience and location. Newbies earn $50-$100 per round, while experienced caddies earn up to $500. 

Caddies usually earn $20-$28 per hour at private clubs or $100-$140 for a full 18-hole round. This comprises a flat fee from the club ($15-$45) and golfer tips (average $25 per bag). In a 5-hour shift, an experienced caddy carrying two bags can make around $120, with earnings reaching up to $300 at high-end clubs. 

Additional rounds can double the day’s pay, making it a popular part-time job, especially for college students. Income varies by club and workload.

What Do Caddies Do?

Caddies play a vital role in supporting golfers on the course. Caddies’ primary responsibilities include maintaining equipment cleanliness, assisting golfers in navigating the course, and helping them with their overall game. Their duties typically involve:

  • Cleaning clubs and golf balls after each shot
  • Raking sand traps and bunkers following a golfer’s shot
  • Sharing knowledge of the course, including yardages and green readings
  • Repairing divots and displaced grass caused by swings
  • Fixing ball marks on the green
  • Handling the pin during putting, removing, and replacing it as necessary
  • Helping locate errant shots

Bottom Line

Caddy earnings in the golf world differ greatly based on multiple aspects. Among them, PGA caddies stand out as the highest earners, with the top making over $1 million annually. 

Amateur caddies’ pay can also vary depending on their experience and abilities, from $50 to $500 per round or even more. Factors affecting caddy incomes comprise experience, location, golfer’s achievements, and job availability.

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Joe Morelli

Joe Morelli is the founder of TopRankGolf, a passionate golfer with decades of experience playing this amazing sport. He's dedicated to helping golfers learn, improve and enjoy the game of golf.